building purpose into our children

Posted on June 30, 2009

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As I mentioned previously, I am working through a series of books on parenting. At the moment, I am thoroughly enjoying Tim Kimmel’s Grace-Based Parenting. Throughout the opening chapters I have been challenged to view my parenting philosophy through the eyes and heart of God – to treat my kids as He has treated me in Christ.

Kimmel suggests that it is the job of every parent to build “significant purpose” into the lives of our children – generally, specifically, relationally, and spiritually.  How should we tackle such a monumental task?  Kimmel makes three keen observations that I think every parent should take to heart:

  1. Children feel significant when they are regularly affirmed – far from mindless self-esteem building, “affirmation catches your children doing things right. It notices when they do things you know don’t come easy to them . . . legitimate praise builds a solid resistance against the insults and put-downs that often bombard them from culture.”
  2. Children feel significant when they know they have our attention – “We need to have a working knowledge of our children’s likes and dislikes, their friends and their detractors, and the big things and the little things that matter most in their lives.”
  3. Children feel significant when they are gracefully admonished – “Sin represents a clear and present danger to our children as they try to achieve a significant purpose. That’s why we need due diligence in guarding their hearts for them when they are young and teaching them how to guard their own hearts as they get older.”

One of the things I pray for as I kneel beside my kids’ beds each night is that they would accomplish something great (in God’s eyes) for the Kingdom of God.  That they would have the humility & wisdom to see what is right and the courage & confidence to do it.  To that end, I offer those of us who are parents the following diagnostic questions as we seek together to train our kids to have a significant purpose for their lives:

  • As a parent, am I pursuing God’s plans/purposes for my life?
  • Do I teach my kids that their significance is in found in themselves (self-esteem) or in Christ (humility)?
  • Do I communicate regularly to my kids, both in word & action, that God has created them for a purpose?
  • Am I helping my children develop the kids of assets, skills, and heart that will prepare them for a life of purpose & meaning in God’s Kingdom?
  • Am I modeling purposeful living by demonstrating repentance, obedience, risk, sacrifice, humility, and wisdom?
  • Am I learning the hopes, dreams, frustrations, struggles, and aptitudes of each of my children individually? Or am I inadvertently squeezing them out of God’s image and into my own mold?
  • Do I consistently instruct and discipline my kids (Duet. 6, Eph. 6) so as to show them how their sin leads to death and unfulfilled purpose?
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